Sunday, February 24, 2013

Day 976: Walk with Me

I'm not a huge fan of breast cancer events. I know that might be a controversial position, but, well, that suits me, right? I do, however, participate in one walk every year; I captain a KatyDid Cancer team, in fact. There's a Beverly Breast Cancer Walk on Mother's Day that benefits the local hospital where I did radiation (and where I received free massages, acupuncture and even pedicures during treatment). I still feel conflicted even about this walk. There's a lot of talk about the tatas, saving second base, signs and team names that are well-meaning but still seem to make light of a complicated, disfiguring, traumatizing and deadly disease. There are too many memorials, too much pink. But there are also thousands of people in my community who participate, and if they didn't know about me before, they find out as they walk past my lawn and see a photograph of me on a sign depicting me as a cancer survivor, and they see a placard with my name on it. I might not look like cancer girl anymore, but that's one of the faces that people know of me over here on the south side, and, well, they seem to love me anyway.

At least in this case, I know where the money is going, and I am fairly certain of the goal, which is much more specific than finding an elusive "cure." There is nothing wrong with the legion of "cure" walks. I am just not at a place where I want to dedicate my time to them, unless there is a specific focus on research that is tangible. One of the things that I remind myself of continuously is how comparatively lucky I was in being able to access quality care in a simple and affordable manner after being diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer. I could walk to one of the best research hospitals in the country from my office, so it wasn't hard to get to chemo. I lucked into being assigned one of the best breast surgeons out there. I chose to do radiation at the closest hospital to my house, because going elsewhere every day would have been extremely frustrating and would've been like a second commute. The south side of Chicago is not replete with the same health care services as, say, the north side, and yet the small hospital where I burned myself every day was actually wonderful, and the cancer center there is pretty damn legit. I have heard of people having to travel hours, days even, to receive cancer treatment. People go into debt, have to take extended leaves from work, are forced to stay away from their families for long periods of time--all just to receive the treatment they need to stay alive.

So, I'm glad I live in a place where quality care was available, and I'm damn glad I had good health insurance.

I participated in my first Beverly Breast Cancer walk just days after being diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. I didn't know I had cancer when I signed my family up to walk. I don't remember much about that day. Mother's Day will forever be a difficult time for me, as it falls right around my Cancerversary, and because in addition to being celebrated for being a mom, I find myself being celebrated by thousands of people who walk past my house in support of people like me. And I am reminded of other less "pink" things as well, such as the fact that cancer forced us to cap our family, and that each Mother's Day I spend is one that I didn't know I would have three years ago. And I no longer plan three years into the future.

I do, however, plan three months into the future. If you live in the area, please consider joining me on Mother's Day at the Beverly Breast Cancer walk. Register here and choose register now, join a team, join existing team, and look for KatyDid Cancer. If you walk with us, you can come to the party I'll host at my house afterwards. There will be a shitload of food and even booze at 10 in the morning. You can also donate to my team or provide a general donation. This girl--yeah, this one--is but one image of the many people who need access to quality cancer treatment.

KatyDid right? Katy DID. That's what we tell ourselves over here.